Last year, the Centennial High School girls soccer team lost to Whetstone 2-1 in its City League finale before bouncing back to beat the Braves 1-0 in the City championship game.
Centennial coach Barb Mansfield is optimistic her squad will be able to turn the tables on Whetstone once again when the teams meet in the City championship game Thursday, Oct. 11, at Crew Stadium, after the Braves beat the Stars 2-1 in a league game Oct. 2.
"Last year, we were able to figure out Whetstone's strengths in the first game and we were prepared to do much better against them in the rematch," Mansfield said. "We learned a lot about Whetstone when they beat us (Oct. 2) and I think that's going to help us use a smarter strategy in the City final."
Mansfield said her team is working on defending against junior center midfielder Liz Jackson and her long throw-ins.
In the first meeting, Jackson threw the ball deep into the box and it skipped off one of the Stars' heads and into the net for an own goal to give Whetstone a 1-0 halftime lead.
In the second half, Jackson scored with her feet to make it 2-0.
Whetstone, which finished 5-0 in the City-North and was 9-5 overall before playing Wellington on Oct. 9, also is led by senior forward Alana Bruzzese, junior defender Maddy O'Malley, freshman defender Elena Kozelek and senior goalkeeper Kollene Elekes.
Elekes had three saves in the first meeting.
"(Jackson) has a strong throw-in and we've got to treat it like a corner kick every time she has the ball on the sidelines," Mansfield said. "We were pretty evenly matched with Whetstone, and we had a lot of scoring opportunities that we didn't put on net. We need to do a better job of taking quality shots this time around."
Mansfield said Taylor Lanier and Carly Scheel are her most dynamic offensive players, while Esther Harrison and Sophia Yanke are her top defenders.
Lanier scored with a minute remaining and goalie Charity Harrison had eight saves against Whetstone on Oct. 2.
"We knew from the start that we had to pay extra attention to (Lanier) and we did a good job defending her until she broke through and scored there at the end," Whetstone coach Phil Labuhn said. "We'll need to maintain our mark on her and deny her the ball as often as we can.
"We both had some great chances in the first game, and the team that does the better job of finishing will win the City League final."
Girls tennis player advances to district
Junior Niki Stearns felt satisfied after pulling off two major accomplishments last week.
Stearns finished first in singles in the City League coaches tournament, which began Sept. 24 at Whetstone and concluded Oct. 1 at Columbus South.
In the final, Stearns beat Whetstone's Abby Nypaver 6-0, 6-1 to win the tournament's singles title for the second consecutive season.
"It was fun to win my second City championship," she said.
Stearns then went 4-1 and finished third in the Division II sectional held Oct. 4 and 6 at Columbus School for Girls.
Stearns upset fourth-seeded Jessica Bush of Worthington Christian 6-2, 6-2 in the second round, lost to eventual champion Rachael Morales of Hartley 6-1, 6-1 in a semifinal and beat DeSales' Sarah Schockling 1-6, 6-1, 6-0 in the consolation final.
"My second match (against Bush) was a tough one, even though the score doesn't show it," Stearns said. "It took a lot of patience and consistency to win both that match and my final match (against Shockling). I just hit balls back to them until they made mistakes."
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced to the district tournament Friday, Oct. 12, and Saturday, Oct. 13, at Hilliard Davidson. Stearns was the only Centennial player who made the cut.
The doubles teams of Jesse Manser and Maggie Sullivan and Courtney Conrad and Bethany Hill each went 1-1.
Jani Stearns and Kate Sullivan each went 0-1 in singles.
Niki Stearns will make her district debut.
"I know it's going to get a lot tougher, but I'm hoping to win at least one match at district," she said. "I've got to keep my feet moving and stay patient to have a chance."
Football squad set for Brookhaven
The football team lost to Northland 38-0 on Oct. 5 at home to drop to 1-6 overall and 1-3 in the City-North.
Abu Turay rushed for 137 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries for the Vikings, who improved to 4-3 and 3-1.
The Stars will play host Friday, Oct. 12, to Brookhaven in a league game.
The Bearcats defeated Centennial 42-13 last year.
Brookhaven beat Linden-McKinley 35-8 on Oct. 5 to improve to 5-2 overall and 4-0 in the City-North, as quarterback Kevin Greenhow rushed for two touchdowns and threw two touchdown passes.